When you become a family caregiver of someone you love, the priorities in your life are sure to shift. Those who are caring for a parent often juggle careers, household chores, raising children and other obligations along with the responsibilities of caregiving. With all of these important duties demanding their attention, caregivers often neglect their own health needs and personal desires.
Far too often, caregivers find themselves suffering from anxiety, high blood pressure, frequent illness, fatigue or depression because they’ve neglected their own needs for too long. It’s important for caregivers to recognize the areas where they fail to take care of themselves and come up with solutions to make sure they’re staying as healthy and fulfilled as possible.
If you’re like many caregivers, you may need some convincing to realize just how important it is to take care of yourself. Understandably, our own needs appear small compared to those of the person we’re caring for, but it’s not always fair to make unweighted comparisons – especially when our own health suffers, too.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance®, self-care is the first step in becoming a good and capable caregiver. In fact, they describe taking good care of your health as the only way you can provide quality care, stating, “Not taking care of yourself may be a lifelong pattern, with taking care of others an easier option. However, as a family caregiver you must ask yourself, ‘What good will I be to the person I care for if I become ill?’ […] Breaking old patterns and overcoming obstacles is not an easy proposition, but it can be done – regardless of your age or situation.”
More than just your loved one’s caregiver, you are an individual deserving of happiness and fulfillment. If feelings of guilt, unworthiness or extreme stress keep you from taking the time and resources to care for yourself, it’s important to recognize those feelings and start breaking down the barriers they create.
If self-care isn’t something that comes easily to you, experts suggest attempting to change your habits and behavior step by step. Unlike the effects of disease or injury on the loved one you are caring for, you have control over your own actions that influence your health and well-being. The Family Caregiver Alliance® outlines several tools for working toward a lifestyle of good self-care:
These tips are just a few suggestions on ways to start caring for your own health and happiness while you take on the role of family caregiver. However, we all experience life differently, and you may find other solutions that work best for your situation. Perhaps you could use some more support on learning effective ways to practice self-care.
For any of their senior living needs, seniors and their family caregivers will always find support at Tuscan Gardens. We understand the complex emotional and logistical challenges that come with caring for someone in need, and we’re here to help you know that you’re not alone in this journey. There are experienced care professionals at our community that would love to help you find the right balance of responsibility and self-care in your life.